2014 December

Five Lessons from Leading Innovators on Confronting Suburban Poverty

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Cross-posted on Brookings’ Metro Blog, The Avenue

Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube

In September we reported that suburbs in our nation’s largest metro areas had seen their poor population grow by 66 percent since 2000, making them home to the largest and fastest growing poor population in the country.

However, the past year also offered important lessons about effective approaches to the new geography of poverty. Through a series of briefs, practitioners from across the country shared their firsthand perspectives on the innovative models they helped to launch to confront the rise of suburban poverty in their regions. In some ways, each of the four models described in these briefs is unique. They come from different parts of the country and tackle different facets of the complex issues suburbs face in the context of growing poverty:
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Fighting Poverty at Tax Time through the EITC

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Cross-posted on Brookings’ Metro Blog, The Avenue

Elizabeth Kneebone and Natalie Holmes

With tax season around the corner, thousands of certified volunteer programs across the country are gearing up to offer free tax return preparation services to millions of low- and moderate-income taxpayers, military families, people with disabilities and seniors.

In addition to free tax assistance, many of these programs invest in outreach and education efforts to make sure residents in their community know about important tax provisions they may qualify for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. Both of these credits for low-income working families are refundable, meaning that if the credit exceeds the taxes owed, filers can receive the remainder as tax refunds. Together, these two provisions keep millions of workers and their families out of poverty each year.
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The Growing Demand for Home Health Care Workers in the Suburbs Raises Housing and Transportation Challenges

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Nurse and elderly man spending time together --- Image by © Jose Luis Pelaez, Inc./Blend Images/Corbis

Kathleen Costanza and Sarah Jackson

As a home health aide, Jasmine Almodovar earns $9.50 an hour. Though she spends her days providing care for senior citizens, she doesn’t have health insurance of her own—much less life insurance or a retirement plan.

“We work really long hours, really hard work,” Almodovar recently told NPR in a story about home health workers in suburban Cleveland. “A lot of us are barely home because if we don’t go to work, we don’t get time off. We don’t get paid vacations. And some of us haven’t had raises in years.”

Almodovar is part of the rapidly growing home health care workforce that’s caring for aging baby boomers who want to stay put in their suburban homes. The US Department of Labor estimates approximately 1 million more home health jobs—comprising home health aides and personal care aides—like Almodovar’s will be needed in the next decade.
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Resources

Learn about suburban poverty in your community, how innovators around the country are addressing it, and what you can do locally and nationally to take action.